Activism runs deep at the young Palm Springs, California, brokerage BBS Brokers Realty. Founded by the Kamoei sisters — Bahareh, Bita and Sara — the firm is in their words “huge on hospitality” and also protective of its clients.
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Activism runs deep at the young Palm Springs, California, brokerage BBS Brokers Realty.
Founded by the Persian-American Kamoei sisters — Bahareh, Bita and Sara (hence, BBS) — the firm is in their words “huge on hospitality” and also protective of its clients.
The sisters feel a strong loyalty and passion for the Palm Springs area, where their family fled to in the late 1980s seeking reprieve from a dangerous political climate in Iran and have called home ever since.
Bahareh, 29, the eldest, was born in Iran, Bita, 27, in Canada. Both of them along with American-born Sara, 25, went away to college in San Diego but returned home to launch their brokerage in 2015.
Their mother, Masoumeh, was a human rights activist in Iran and was at one point imprisoned for her beliefs. Perhaps because of this history, the Kamoeis have a habit of standing up for the rights of their first-time homebuyers, and aren’t afraid to step in if they believe their clients are getting a raw deal.
“We recently had a homebuyer who had no family support and was making it on their own,” said Bahareh, who is the company broker. “They got qualified with a lender at 7 percent, and I thought that looked really high.” She encouraged the client to spread the net wider and as a result cut the mortgage rate in half.
On another occasion, BBS Brokers was in escrow with a first-time buyer when he began to stall. Bahareh found it wasn’t that he didn’t want the house, he just didn’t want to go through the process with a “super-condescending” lender. With some hand-holding, they ushered the client through to save the deal.
Education, which has always been important to the first-generation immigrant family, is also a big part of the BBS Brokers service package, helping buyers keep their nerve throughout the transaction.
The three sisters are grateful for the college degrees that have given them a solid cross-section of skills in their business. Bahareh, who studied politics and social sciences, trained as an REO agent and then became a transaction coordinator before going out on her own. Bita studied urban planning at UC San Diego and uses her skills analyzing real estate data at the brokerage, while Sara, a business management and entrepreneurship major, handles the marketing for the company. They give back by offering a college scholarship to two high school seniors from the sisters’ alma mater, Coachella Valley High School and hope to double this to four next year.
“When Bita joined Bahareh, revenue doubled and once I joined, it doubled again,” Sara said. They have bought their mother a home and say the business wouldn’t have happened without her.
The sisters say they have been approached by big franchises about potential mergers, but at this time they’re not interested in any kind of sale. They booked sales volume last year of $20.7 million and sold 64 homes, and they are expecting a similar track record this year.
“We love working together; we don’t feel like we are ready to abandon our independence,” Bahareh said.
Palm Springs is attracting buyers thanks to its affordable housing and open air lifestyle. Just 100 miles from Los Angeles, it is also a popular location for second-home buyers.
The sisters like to show off all the Coachella Valley cities — from the glamorous El Paseo shopping district, Palm Desert’s’ “Rodeo Drive,” to Indio where the Coachella Valley Music Festival is held and Indian Wells, famous for the BNP Paribas Open.
“We like to educate [clients] that there is a lot going on in the desert so they feel more of a connection,” Sara said.